If you’re active on social media, you probably have a list of hashtags you use when sharing photos about hearing loss. #HearingLoss, of course, #LifeIsOn – the official Phonak hashtag – and others such as #hardofhearing #deafkidsrock and #hearingaids. One hashtag campaign, however, recently gained international attention, with the important message: #ShowYourAids.
The #ShowYourAids social media campaign exploded this summer thanks to one young woman, Emma Rudkin, who knows from experience how tough it can be to wear hearing aids proudly.
Emma, a 19-year-old Texas native and this year’s Miss San Antonio, started the social media movement and non-profit, Aid The Silent, to raise awareness and support for the deaf community.
I talked with her about the #ShowYourAids movement and how she gained the courage to show off her Phonak hearing aids.
Continue reading “#ShowYourAids: Texan Beauty Queen Shows Us How to Live Proudly with Hearing Loss”
I have been a graphic designer for over 13 years in Chicago. I have worked with many interesting and diverse clients and never thought I would work for one “client” exclusively. Design isn’t just about making things pretty but about understanding a need, developing messages and clearly communicating these to people through different media and channels.
So why did I join a hearing aid manufacturer?
A former teacher of mine, Marcia Lausen, and one of her staff designers, a former classmate, contacted me about a potential in-house job at Phonak. They introduced me to their 10-month research of the industry and showed concepts they had developed at studio/lab, a design studio.
Their research informed The Phonak Gain Initiative (PGI). PGI is about changing the conversation and strengthening the relationship between hearing aid customers and their hearing care professionals. “The conversation” has been, and still is, about the struggles of being hearing impaired, the fear of not being “normal”, the sadness of losing one’s hearing and other health conditions that can be associated with hearing loss. Continue reading “Changing the Conversation: Design & Hearing”
I started with single-sided deafness when I was thirty. As time passed, I often thought that even if my deafness in that ear eventually became profound, I would be able to manage so long as I had hearing in my other ear. Then otosclerosis developed in my other ear and I needed to wear a hearing aid. The aid, lipreading and positioning strategies enabled me to cope and continue my job as a trainer for a local authority.
And then, (if you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know) I lost the hearing in my better ear quite suddenly and my single-sided deafness switched sides: the severely deaf side was now the ‘good side’ and the ‘good ear’ was now a ‘dead ear’.
It was a confusing time – not least because after years of ‘positioning’ everyone to my left side, I now needed to do a complete switch. Not that I left the house much immediately after the sudden deafness, but when we did, my husband Richard and I both kept getting muddled up about which side we needed to walk on or where to sit.
As a consequence of my sudden deafness, I discovered the CROS hearing aid and the BiCROS system.
Continue reading “BiCROS Aids — They’re Magic”
Yesterday Pascal sent me a link to a form that allows people to sign up to participate in the user research studies Phonak is going to be organising in London and NYC, asking me if I could pass it around amongst people I know.
Yes, behind-the-scenes scoop: this is often how you find people to participate in such studies! It’s one thing to put a form online, and another to get it to the right people. To participate in the studies you need to be a hearing aid wearer, but it doesn’t have to be Phonak. So, if you live in NYC or London (or are ready to head there), do sign up to participate.
This kind of research is essential to get real live feedback from the people who actually use hearing technology and shape the future of these products. One of the criticisms I’ve often heard about hearing aids (and that I’ve made myself) is that they don’t always seem to fulfil our actual needs as people with hearing loss. This is a chance to change this!
Pascal is particularly interested (but not only of course) in hearing from people who connect their hearing aids to their smartphone, or would like to, or tried but gave up because it wasn’t practical or useful…
Today, it’s World Usability Day. More than a hundred events will be held around the world by passionate people — I am one of them — who believe that usability is key.
Usability is about making products, even complex ones, easy to use by everyone. Of course, that is the ideal goal and you would probably agree with me that we are really far from it! It’s even worse: it looks like appliances like ovens became less usable in the past years. A few years ago I shot a 2-minute video showing a well-known Swiss politician explaining how he struggled with his new unusable oven. This was part of a project launched during World Usability Day 2006. The video (in French) is still available on Dailymotion.
Unfortunately, the oven is an example among thousands of others. Ironic as it sounds, I am writing these lines on a PC which is far from being a model of design and usability — I wish I could use my Macbook at work! But I am unfair. My PC is far better than my unengaging desktop phone. By the way, do you know why we, employees of companies and public bodies around the world, seem to be condemned to use these horrible phones ? How did they survive to the iPhone era?
Continue reading “It’s World Usability Day!”
A surprise was waiting for me on my last trip to Phonak headquarters in Stäfa, 10 days ago: Venture.
I had an appointment to try some Audéo hearing aids and tweak a few things that were bothering me with the fitting and the settings. As I arrived in the building, I bumped into Ora. I excitedly told her, “Do you know I’m trying Boleros? And I like them, there are really situations where they perform better than my old hearing aids.” She answered that she was delighted to hear that. I mentioned some of my beef with Soundflow. “You should try Venture! Are you going to try Venture? Tell them to make you try Venture.”
Venture? Phonak’s new platform (chip, software) for Audéo.
I headed towards the audiology lab and was welcomed by Michael and Simone. Here is what they had for me 🙂
Continue reading “Trying Venture: It’s Smooth”
As a Phonak user, I have found many benefits to my beloved Bi CROS hearing aids, (getting a sense of sounds coming from both left and right when I’m profoundly deaf in one ear for a start off) but there has always been one little niggle with the aids for me and that’s the Soundflow setting.
In the Soundflow setting (the default setting that comes automatically with the hearing aid), I’ve had continual problems with background noises suddenly and unexpectedly cutting out. This is very disconcerting; especially when the ‘background noise’ is the very thing I’m listening out for, i.e. traffic. But, even if it’s the sound of a river flowing or the extractor fan on the cooker hood, it’s still an odd experience.
Continue reading “Not Going With the Flow”
As promised, here are my impressions of the Bolero hearing aids I’m currently trying out (hoping I don’t get any of the technical stuff wrong here, do tell me if I did!). They have open tips, like my Widex ones have, but are BTE (entirely behind-the-ear) rather than RIC (with the receiver, the part that produces sounds, directly in the ear canal — this would be the Phonak Audéo model, which I might try in future). My Phonak audiologist Jennifer tells me it doesn’t change much, acoustically: a RIC just moves some of the technology away from behind the ear, allowing the part that sits there to be smaller — important for those, who, like Steve, appreciate when their hearing aids are invisible.
Continue reading “Impressions on New Hearing Aids”
Just last month the FDA released their latest Internet and Social Media Guidance for Pharma and Med-tech companies. If you haven’t read it yet, have a look here.
With the rise and use of social media across all industries, Med-Tech was bound to adopt social media at some point, especially given the prevalence of customer usage and relatively cheap way of reaching customers and/or offering customer service via electronic means. The introduction of this document points out that its purpose is to illustrate the agency’s current thinking regarding communication of benefits and risks through social and online media. The hearing aid industry generally does not fall under the exact guidelines as indicated in the latest draft, however the overall suggestions and illustration of what the FDA lays out is obviously food for thought for any health care organization marketing to customers online.
In the U.S. the FDA generally recognizes two types of labeling; that which is required labeling (think approval labeling) and the second which is promotional labeling (subsequent marketing materials/labeling). They recommend considering the following when promoting products on social media and online mediums:
Continue reading “FDA Social Media Guidelines: How We Comply at Phonak”
It’s no secret that I’m not a Phonak customer, despite being the editor-in-chief of this blog. It could be argued that this is a good or a bad thing, but right now I’m actually not convinced that it’s all that important.
Anyway, since I started working with Phonak, it’s been (kindly) joked about that something needed to be done about my hearing aids. To tell the truth, I’m very happy about my current hearing aids, and not just because of their colour. I like the sound quality, I like the way my voice sounds (important! I speak a lot!), I even find their operating noise soothing. They allow me to understand people so much better and have really changed my life.
Continue reading “Trying Something Different”